Video: Sex workers seek legal recognition

19 October 2015 05:17 pm - 24     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}


An organization calling itself the Centre for Sex Worker’s Rights (CSWR) today requested President Maithripala Sirisena to legalise their occupation and provide them legal recognition so that they could continue with their profession without any hindrance.

CSWR Co-President B. Maheshwari said those who criticized their profession had neglected to look into how and why sex workers had been forced into this situation.

“I’m here in this occupation today because of my husband. If he hadn’t abandoned me and our two kids, I wouldn’t have to do this. Husbands should learn not to leave their wives. When a girl is helpless, men try to take advantage of her and ruin her life. It’s not the government or the police who are helping us to make ends meet. I’m doing this to feed my children and to educate them,” she told a news conference.

She charged the police were arresting them for a fine of Rs. 100 and putting them in jails for one and a half month. “What people don’t know is that police come to us the day before they arrest us and pay us for the service and the next day they arrest us. When we are in jail for a month, there is no one to look after our kids. This is why we request the President to provide us some concession and to legalise the occupation,” she said.

Addressing the news conference, political activist Wikramabahu Karunaratne said a legal immunity was needed to protect sex workers from those who are suppressing them and treating them like slaves.

CSWR National Organiser Attorney Senaka Perera said the Vagrants Ordinance of Sri Lanka should be abolished which allows the police to arrest a woman only for standing by herself at a bus halt but not a man for the very same reason.

“Most of these workers are not engaged in the occupation willingly but the police approach towards them is very inhumane. Today, even Ministers considers about the appearance when hiring a secretary and they might also have to act as sex workers,” he said adding that they were not attempting to promote the occupation but only attempting to protect sex workers.

“Their rights are also human rights,” he said.

Meanwhile, Sakuni Mayadunne who is a transgender, requested the President to facilitate a mechanism to change their Identity cards once they underwent sex change. She said she had to face many difficulties because she could not change her ID after the sex change.

“If politicians can seek our votes and it means something, what’s stopping them from accepting us? We too are human” she said. (Lahiru Pothmulla and Sanath Desmond)

Video by Buddika

  Comments - 24

  • k.soysa Tuesday, 20 October 2015 01:02 AM

    Society has an obligation to assist them. There, but for the grace of God is my sister, daughter or even mother or wife. Listen to their plight and perhaps the catholic Church can come together with other Denominations to help.

    mahajama muttah Tuesday, 20 October 2015 12:09 PM

    Will see what decision was going to be taken by Yahapalana Hero.

    Wijebahu Tuesday, 20 October 2015 02:37 AM

    true and hats off for coming out amend expose Hippocrates.

    rohan Tuesday, 20 October 2015 02:56 AM

    if husband leaving wife is a reason to be a prostitute its a shame. but this is an eye opener. there must be proper protocols to arrest criminals of sexual harassment. many incidents go un reported. via DM Android App

    lara Tuesday, 20 October 2015 02:53 AM

    its sound morally not god . But accept the truth men are responsible and today some rape cases are result of suppressing these desires . These things should not go underground . Our Doctors should tell the truth about HIV infection and way its spread. They should send message its not blood to blood any body fluid contain HIV virus . Most of sri lanan do not know about it

    Mm Tuesday, 20 October 2015 07:55 AM


    gune Tuesday, 20 October 2015 08:00 AM

    coming colour will not be bad.

    dinesh Tuesday, 20 October 2015 08:15 AM

    QuoteIm here in this occupation today because of my husband. If he hadnt abandoned me and our two kids, I wouldnt have to do this." unquote - What a funny excuse, To take care of her family she expects other males to come to her. Why not do some other respectful work.

    Dinesh Tuesday, 20 October 2015 08:38 AM

    The hypocrites will come out in force I am sure but this is a brave step forward by these people. What you do with your own body is your own business - regardless of why you do it. It is very easy for a lot of us to pass judgement but why a person resorts to a life like this is not always easy to explain and is a result of multiple factors. It is time for a sexual revolution in Sri Lanka. One where people are not scared to discuss sex in schools, homes, communities. A more open and tolerant culture (towards sex) will cure some of the frustrations that have been spilling out in the news with sad headlines and loss of life.

    public Tuesday, 20 October 2015 08:40 AM

    More than the sex workers we need to protect our men. This profession will continue regardless of the law. If we legalize this, we can at-least ensure, that that workers are given proper health checks and carry all necessary public liability insurances.

    sacre blieu Tuesday, 20 October 2015 08:55 AM

    A good number of them have been victims of circumstances , mostly mans inhumanity to mankind. Even those in uniform have accosted some and under threat have violated theses indefensive lot. They should be taken care of , given a chance to be rehabilitated and integrated into society. If not handled properly, this will lead to a explosion of violating the women from the young to the rest , by the high increase in tourism and other social issues. This issue should be given the highest attention by the buddhist clergy . There has been enough of this ,what with the prolification of massages parlours, etc.

    Appu Tuesday, 20 October 2015 08:58 AM

    If it is legalised, we can reduce the child sex and rape on young girls. A person who is with sex desire can go to the prostitutes and reduce their desire.

    nihal Tuesday, 20 October 2015 09:10 AM

    There is some truth and need to look into their grievances but for god sake do not create a generation of kids with either two Mums or Dads in weird USA .NJ

    Faiz Tuesday, 20 October 2015 09:44 AM

    No, no no way , women folk has enough other jobs in Sri Lanka. We all know the adverse consequences , if this sin is legalized...

    Faiz Tuesday, 20 October 2015 09:44 AM

    No, no no way , women folk has enough other jobs in Sri Lanka. We all know the adverse consequences , if this sin is legalized...

    lkboy Tuesday, 20 October 2015 09:57 AM

    They too have a point.

    pradeep Tuesday, 20 October 2015 09:58 AM

    Oldest profession should be legalized. Then the child abuses and rape case will reduce.

    steffny Tuesday, 20 October 2015 09:59 AM

    something is there to think but decisions cannot be take in a hurry! The people who object this are not perfect human being but this issue is really tricky. Rape rates are high, internet access is very easy for children, Porn sites are not banned. Nowadays everyone is facing a great deal of issues of these changes of westernizing according to the era. Laws should be critically examined and as well our country is a cultured historical country too. Court procedures for sex workers can be changed but legalizing will not be a proper idea!

    Eupe Tuesday, 20 October 2015 09:59 AM

    Who ever against to this and criticizes, can they provide livelihood to all these woman?. They do this ultimately for the stomach.It is a timely necessary action to be taken by government for the betterment of younger generation to protect them. Whether law is there or not men(including me) will find thousand of ways for illicit sex.If these sex workers are been properly licensed via government agent (some may ask for sex offer for issuing license), they must go for frequent check ups and testing.I suggest this can be done through health ministry and a gov hospital.Sri Lankan

    sam Tuesday, 20 October 2015 10:02 AM

    No country legalize prostitution, only refrain from apprehending. Even in USA some states and Thailand police not bother sex workers.

    lankaman Tuesday, 20 October 2015 10:16 AM

    Solution to sex worker problem is to have a mechanism to orient them towards a proper job either through training or social service organizations. Legalizing something that is already illegal or morally reprehensible is not a good solution

    IMF BOSS Tuesday, 20 October 2015 10:42 AM

    Why only blame the women. Why not the Men who go behind this Pleasure from Big to Small. Remember the IMF boss went for Sex and got fired.

    sa Tuesday, 20 October 2015 12:02 PM

    High time what is profusely practiced under the table comes clean into the open.

    Neil Tuesday, 20 October 2015 12:12 AM

    Once legalized it would be easier to regulate the sex industry by issuing licences.

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